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Stocks finish slightly lower after retail sales drop draws questions over consumers’ health

U.S. stocks ended lower after the first drop in retail sales figures in seven months raised fears that weakness in the U.S. economy was broadening beyond the manufacturing sector. The S&P 500 fell 0.2% to finish near 2,990. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 21 points, or 0.1%, to end around 27,004, based on preliminary numbers. The Nasdaq Composite was down 0.3% to end near 8,124. Retail sales fell 0.3% in September, well below the 0.3% increase forecast from economists polled by MarketWatch. The prospect of a U.S.-China trade deal also came under doubt after China threatened to retaliate over bills moving through Congress backing pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. This comes as earnings season kicked off this week, with corporate results mostly topping analysts’ expectations so far. Shares of Bank of America Corp. rose 2% after the company reported third-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street expectations.Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

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